Student-Athletes Serve Others You can too. Sign up for the 125 Service Challenge
Student-athlete Stacey Copeland ’10 has been the driving force behind this collective effort. On the field, Copeland has been a leader and field general for the St. Edward’s University women’s soccer team, helping them advance to the NCAA Division II Sweet 16 this season.
Off the field, Copeland has been the coordinator of the dizzying array of service projects that have become as much a part of the Hilltopper Athletics program as games, matches and tournaments.
The projects include volunteering at the Dell Children’s Hospital, the Heart House, which is an after-school program for children from ages five to 12, the Helping Hand Children’s Home, the Elder Haven Daycare Center, Ignite-A-Dream, Dawson Elementary, Travis Heights Elementary, the St. Edward’s Go Project, and Casa Marianella, which is a refugee shelter in Austin.
Chris Magott, associate Athletics trainer and faculty advisor to the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, said that Copeland has made an impact on every athlete at St. Edward’s.
“Things have definitely gone through the roof since Stacey has come along,” Magott said.
In addition to committing to the research and coordination that the service projects require, Copeland attends every single event. But she doesn’t have a car. She rides her bicycle.
Sound exhausting? Not for Copeland. This is just the way she has fun.
“I feel like, for me, personally, it’s my thing,” she said. “It’s just how I choose to spend my time.”
Magott said that he has taken notice of Copeland’s commitment and tries to provide any assistance he can. But he said Copeland has taken on service tasks almost entirely on her own.
“She is probably one of the most passionate athletes,” Maggot said. “She truly believes that we can make a difference in other people’s lives.”
St. Edward’s University women’s soccer coach Nick Cowell said that Copeland, who led the Hilltoppers in goals in her first season in 2008, impresses him even more off the field than on it.
“Stacey's value to the team on the field is one thing,” Cowell said. “Her importance to the team and to the local community cannot be underestimated.”
Copeland originally took on the task of community service organization after the women’s soccer team participated in three community service projects during the Spring 2009 semester. Copeland said she felt the projects helped the team to bond while doing positive things for others.
“We realized that we got a lot out of it and so did the people we were helping,” Copeland said. “I feel like the community projects really give you a whole new perspective on life as a student-athlete.”
Copeland has made her impact on St. Edward’s despite spending her first two years in college in North Carolina. She said that she chose to transfer to St. Edward’s partly because of the university’s recognized commitment to community service.
Cowell, a graduate of the University of Birmingham in England, said that he and Copeland, a Manchester native, hit it off after the two talked over the phone.
Of course, it was Copeland who took the initiative to contact Cowell first. The two went on to forge a bond that would help the women’s soccer team advance further than any previous women’s soccer team in St. Edward’s University history.
After two years at the university, Copeland will be graduating in May. But she will continue playing soccer. After missing a portion of her senior season due to injury, she plans to play for a soccer team in Sweden over the summer.
Cowell said that he hopes Copeland will return to St. Edward’s as an assistant coach.
“Stacey is an inspiration to us all both on and off the field, and we will miss her when she graduates,” Cowell said. “We hope that she will be able to return in the near future to continue her studies in graduate school and also continue the amazing work she has done in the community.”
Whatever the future may hold, Copeland said she is thankful for her time at St. Edward’s and the opportunities she has been given.
“I can’t pay back my coach and St. Edward’s for everything they’ve done for me,” Copeland said, “but I can pass it forward.”